Welcome to the 2016 Digital Foundry Black Friday guide, where our staff present the cream of the deals currently available, curated with a simple philosophy in mind - if it were our money on the line, would we actually pull the trigger on these deals?
We've been monitoring the big sites and bargain forums over the last few days, and little in terms of PC hardware has piqued our interest, but clearly the situation has changed somewhat radically over the last 24 hours, to the point where there are now a number of recommendations we can make.
With the arrival of PlayStation 4 Pro and ever-increasing levels of PC GPU power, there's never been a better time to upgrade to a 4K screen. We recommend a 50-inch screen (or larger) for the living room, but we've actually been really impressed with Samsung's 40-inch KU6400 as a desktop monitor replacement - to the point where our very own Tom Morgan is now using that as his daily driver. So it's with ultra HD screens where we'll kick off our recommendations.
Recommended 4K TV Black Friday deals
Samsung KS7000: It's large, it's bright, it's reasonably priced and it has decent HDR performance for its price-point plus class-leading latency - essential for a gaming display. It's quite possibly the best mid-range performer on the market today, and we'll have a full review of it shortly. Its only minus point is a tendency for the glue that holds it together to loosen. Here are the best deals we could muster. Grab the 55-inch KS7000 for £949, the 49-inch KS7000 for £823.98 delivered (using code ALL60) or go nuclear with the 60-inch KS7000 for £1249.
Samsung KU6020: Samsung's assault on the bargain basement range of the 4K market is pretty impressive. The KU6020 is much like the KU6400 we recently reviewed but has a poorer colour gamut - not that games appear to take advantage of it. You get a VA panel, 20ms latency, and while HDR signals are supported, you should not expect to see much difference from an SDR image. A 40-inch UHD panel for office PC gaming can't be sniffed at either at this price point - it's way below typical monitor pricing, while the larger versions should serve you well if you're not interested in HDR. The 55-inch KU6020 for £574.99 is available from Coop Electrical. But we reckon it's the smaller screens for desktop, bedroom and office use where this screen shines - you can grab the 40-inch KU6020 for £348.99 from Ebuyer.
LG OLED55E6V/55B6V: We'll be watching this one closely over Black Friday/Cyber Monday. Right now, LG's OLED displays are by far and away the best 4K screens we've experienced and prices are heading in the right direction - down. There are two models in contention - the OLED55E6V and the 55B6V. The former supports 3D and comes with an integrated soundbar, while the latter lacks these things but is just as good as just about anything else. Prices have recently dropped on the 55B6V, but not quite enough for us to pull the trigger. The only major discount we see right now is on the OLED 55E6V at £2499 at Richer Sounds. It's a £500 discount on a screen that's usually £1000 more than the B6V. Our target is the B6V for £1,800. At that point, we'll probably be getting one ourselves, but in the meantime, John Lewis's £1899.00 is the best we can muster, and Amazon has just price-matched it. That's still not bad for a display that cost £3,000 not so long ago.
Hisense H65M7000: A 65-inch HDR 4K screen for mid-range money? The Hisense H65M7000 offers a preposterously large amount of real estate for relatively small price. It also gets a ringing endorsement from AVForums, where it compares favourably with Samsung's KS7000 - the current mid-range king - in many respects (though HDR is not one of them). If HDR gaming isn't a priority, this is hard to resist. Buy from BTShop for £1128.99.
Recommended Black Friday Graphics Cards deals
Radeon RX 480 4GB/8GB A superb 1080p60 graphics card, the Radeon RX 480 is well worth checking out. In a straight comparison with its Nvidia rival, we'd probably opt for the GTX 1060, but there are titles where RX 480 is on par or better - and to tell the truth, it's rare to find a game that either of these cards can't handle at 1080p with ultra settings or close to it. Amazon has the cheapest RX 480 4GB at £188.99 (out of stock, but check to the side and you should be able to preorder) and while Scan's astonishing £210 offer for the eight gig version is now over, Amazon has a PowerColor version for £229.99. Both of these recommendations have a third party cooler on them, and you should steer clear of reference designs. We've helpfully pictured one of those for you above.
GeForce GTX 1060 6GB: There's a lot of RX480 stock in the channel according to our retail contacts, but not a lot of GTX 1060, so expect bargains here to be thin on the ground. The best we can do here is an Inno3D GTX 1060 6GB at £229.94 from AWD IT.
GeForce GTX 1070: The Brexit vote and subsequent collapse of sterling has proved devastating on Nvidia pricing, so expect higher-end GeForce deals to be few and far between. However, there's no denying that the GTX 1070 is a superb card for 1440p gaming and is just about viable for 4K on decent settings. You can grab the Asus Turbo version for £339.99 from Amazon (on back order now). In the meantime, this beautifully dinky Gigabyte GTX 1070 for £359.99 from Ebuyer is pricier but has its own charms.
SSD Black Friday bargains
Last year, Black Friday SSD deals were coming thick and fast. This year, it's all been curiously muted by comparison. We consider SSDs as an essential part of a modern gaming PC - and slashing loading times compared to console is hugely appealing in an era where Battlefield 1 can take up to two minutes to load a level on PS4... These are the best and only deals we have right now. They won't be the fastest SSD deals, but for gaming you don't really need the absolute state of the art.
Digital Foundry's recommended Black Friday US Deals
We're expanding our Black Friday deals to cover the US market - something we didn't do last year - with our very own American staff member, John Linneman, recommending the following bargains. Even with the weakened pound, some of this stuff is enough to make UK gamers weep in abject despair and envy. Like a complete Oculus Rift set-up for the equivalent of £800, just to kick off with.
- Core i5/RX 480 CyberPower PC with Oculus Rift: $999
- Samsung U28E590D 28-inch 4K monitor: $249
- 3TB External Hard Drive: $79.99
- Samsung 850 Evo 1TB SSD: $249.99
- MSI Gaming X GTX 1070 8GB: $399
- Surface Pro 4/Core i5/8GB/256GB SSD/Type Cover: $999
- Xbox One controller: $39.99
- Dual Shock 4 controller with PC/Mac wireless dongle: $39.99
- Kingston HyperX Cloud Stinger Headset: $34.99
- Kingston HyperX Cloud II gaming headset: $64.99
- Sennheiser HD 598 Cs Closed Back Headphones: $99.95
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